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The Top 10 Worst Christmas Gift Ideas

It can be hard to shop for a college student. We’re not quite kids, but who really wants to embrace adulthood? But there are still plenty of great Christmas ideas for a 20 something.

We all have that relative who doesn’t have a clue what age we are. It’s the cruel dark side of Christmas. Thank God that Santa is here to bring the festive vibes. Here are some ideas that you probably shouldn’t be considering.

Note: I’ve either received, or witness the reception, of all these gifts. Hard to believe I still turned out okay after all the horrors. Also, these are in no particular order.

Poor kid...

1. Charitable donations in some one else’s name. Seinfeld famously parodied this in its Festivus episode. Gifts like these put the recipient in a terrible position. He or she is required to put on a facade while feeling guilty that he or she is not pleased with this gift “that keeps on giving…” I’m not condemning charity, just let people make contributions for themselves.

2. Christmas sweaters, or anything Christmas related. These gifts are great, just not great to give on Christmas day. Who wants a festive gift that they can’t use for another year?

3. Household appliances that he or she did not ask for. Times are tough so appliances make for good gifts. But don’t go out and buy someone a toaster that was not requested. I once gave my mother a sewing machine that was a re-gift. She knew. Not a good gift…

4. Anything Twilight related, or any other fad that will die before next Christmas. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter will live forever. Twilight will not. Unless the recipient has some sort of strange connection to the franchise (such as looking like them), pick something else.

5. Tea. No one wants tea for Christmas. Good tea can be purchased for three dollars a box. You will look cheap. You probably are cheap if you’re planning on giving someone tea for Christmas. I have 20 boxes of tea in my room. I don’t want tea for Christmas. Why? Because it’s a crap gift.

6. Things that you’re interested in, but not the recipient. Do not buy people things with the intention of “getting them into it.” The person will have to fake interest for fear of hurting your feelings. Get them something they want.

I actually want one of these. There's a website that makes them. But Ralphie wasn't too pleased.

7. Gift cards. No. No. No. If this is your last resort, just give cash. You still suck, but you suck less.

8. Clothes that don’t fit. If you’re giving someone clothes, get the size right. I do not fit into extra large t-shirts. I won’t wear one to please the buyer of this terrible gift. Don’t get me started on pants. You may be afraid to ask someone their size because it lets them know you’re getting them clothes, an often crappy gift, but take the risk.

9. Cigarettes. That’s what Bender’s dad from The Breakfast Club got him… Smoke up Johnny!!! He didn’t like his Dad.

10. A Snuggie. Snuggies are so 2009. Not that they were ever in. Apparently, sleved blankets are still being made. Who knew?

Check back next week for some of the best Christmas gifts. Well, check tomorrow for something else we wrote about. Or maybe an hour from now, just to be safe.


  1. This is bullshit. Tea and cigarettes are great gifts! Though if you are giving cigarettes you should pair them with coffee, not tea.

  2. The Dowager Countess

    What about the Chia Pet? That is the worst gift ever! Looking forward to the Best Gift list!

  3. I would like to take this opportunity to warn you in advance that, should I receive any Twilight-related gifts this year, I will be bothered. Very, very bothered.

  4. Dr. Malone, I’m not so sure about your #1 above. A wonderful young man of my acquaintance, when pressed for what he wanted for Christmas, actually suggested that he just wanted “some little thing” and for his main gift to make a donation to a highly worthwhile charity which he specified. I will agree, though, that to do this when the recipient did not ask for it to be done has an air of smarminess and self-congratulation, rather like the unctuous characters in “Smart [sic] Cars” or a Honda Pious who sidle up to some hockey-mom with five kids and with an air of superior virtue sneer at her loaded SUV. In the case of the young man I mentioned, though, I thought it was a virtuous, even noble, thing to do.

  5. PS: I agree fully with your pooh-=poohing ‘gift cards’ which are just a scam by stores, which hope you will forget them (as fully 10+% of recipients do – – resulting in pure profit to the store which takes cash and gives nothing in return) and in any event compel the recipient to shop here rather than there. If the donor wants to make it ‘special,’ go to the bank and get new, crispy Ulysses Grant or even Ben Franklin green pictures; there’s something inviting about nice new money.

    Re gift cards, however, I do recall a mischievous fellow who dealt with people he truly didn’t like by pocketing high-denomination ($100 or even $500) gift cards off the rack, of course putting no value on them at the register, and then mailing them to the unliked recipient, usually in a surplus Christmas card from an ‘assortment’ which was too ugly or stupid to send to friends, with a scrawled message, usually of unspecific gratitude, and an illegible signature. He would then cackle at the expected embarrassment of the unliked recipient going in to some swanky store with a large gift card and being told that it was worthless. I do NOT suggest any such behaviour, which is totally inconsistent with the Christmas spirit of love, but your deprecation of gift cards brought back this flood of memories.

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